Why Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Matters
Written by Amy Hinman
Everyone deserves to feel safe and welcome at work. This is the essence of diversity and inclusion — crafting intentional work cultures and policies that ensure everyone, no matter their background or lived experience, can come to work and feel safe to be their full, authentic selves.
At LaFleur, we’re deeply committed to meaningful diversity and inclusion. To learn more about why we’re constantly working to make our workplace more welcoming and diverse, keep reading.
What Is Diversity?
What makes us unique is worth celebrating. To us, “diversity” represents any differences in our backgrounds and lived experiences. Here are some examples:
- Race and ethnicity
- Place of origin and citizenship
- Health and wellness needs
- Education level
- Income level
- Military and veteran status
- Marital and familial status
- Religious beliefs, or lack thereof
- Political views
While some differences are easy to identify, others are subtle and nuanced. Regardless, we recognize that true diversity enriches our workplace, makes us more innovative, and helps us understand the world around us.
What Is Inclusion?
Diversity without inclusion is isolating and demoralizing. An inclusive workplace does not just highlight our differences, but welcomes them and acknowledges their value.
In a diverse, inclusive environment, your employees may feel empowered to take time off to celebrate a religious holiday that might not be on everyone else’s calendar. It means coworkers are excited to bring their same-gender partner to work events, because they’ll be treated with warmth and respect. Or they are confident about navigating their workspace, because the layout was designed to accommodate wheelchairs and mobility devices.
There are a lot of ways to celebrate and integrate inclusive practices. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy.
No one wants to be tokenized or exoticized. Inclusion acknowledges that, for all of our differences, we are more alike than different. As humans, we want to find purpose, build meaningful relationships, eat good food, and have fun. It’s just that we may not all do these things in the same way – and that is completely okay.
When you’re stepping out of your comfort zone, you may feel uneasy, but growth is often challenging. Just like training for a triathlon, learning French, or adjusting to black coffee, becoming a champion of diversity and inclusion takes time, effort, humility, and the tenacity to push through when things get tough.
Acknowledge and Combat Your Implicit Bias
We all carry preconceived notions about other people and feel uncomfortable with things we don’t understand. That’s just part of human nature. The thing that sets an inclusive workplace apart is that the team acknowledges its biases and does its best to move beyond them.
When you’re revising your hiring and business practices, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by the fear of not “getting it all right.” At LaFleur, we’re combating this fear by identifying individual, manageable steps, and then taking them.
Here are some practices we’ve implemented, or strategies you can use in your own workplace:
- Be conscious of your first reaction to names; don’t judge or dismiss because the spelling or origin is unfamiliar to you.
- Be open to different levels of education, especially if they have the work experience and skills, but lack formal training or a degree.
- Connect with local community groups and coalitions to make sure your job postings are getting to diverse groups of people.
- Invest in implicit bias training for your company.
- Be conscious of the imagery you use to represent your company and your clients; choose images that reflect your diverse community.
Connecting with different people and perspectives has only made our team stronger! More importantly, we believe it’s the right thing to do, because everyone deserves to belong.
Diversity and Inclusion Requires Vulnerability
Part of learning is making mistakes. When you’re creating an inclusive culture, that means acknowledging your missteps and responding appropriately.
To revisit the previous metaphors, when you’re learning French, you will inevitably make grammar mistakes. These mistakes help you learn, grow, and speak better French. The same is true for diversity and inclusion. No one is perfect when they’re learning. When you make the inevitable mistake, it’s important to recognize that something is wrong, and work to make it better.
We’ve found these phrases helpful as we strive toward a more intentionally inclusive work environment.
I’m Sorry. I Didn’t Know That.
It’s okay to admit you don’t know something, or you got it wrong. Mistakes help us move forward and acknowledging them is important. Plus, your vulnerability can encourage meaningful conversation and help you understand your colleagues even better.
Actually, That Was Their Idea.
Being inclusive means making sure everyone’s voices are heard. If you have the chance to give someone credit for their work, do it!
Thank You for Telling Me.
When you’re a member of a marginalized group, speaking up can be intimidating. If someone confides in you, it’s important to recognize how big a step that was.
What Can I Do to Support You?
When an employee or coworker has needs that are different than your own, ask them what they need, rather than making assumptions. Rather than swooping in and trying to “fix” a situation, acknowledge the other person’s agency and ask them if they need help.
I Believe You.
No matter who you’re talking to, believing them and their story goes a long way in creating a safe, inclusive work environment, even when it’s a feeling or situation you don’t identify with.
Celebrate the Diversity You Already Have!
Even if you’ve never thought about diversity before, your workplace probably already has diverse voices. It’s time to celebrate them! At LaFleur, these are some of the ways we uplift one another.
Compiling a Narrative Recipe Book
Everyone comes from somewhere. Collecting and sharing family recipes and the stories behind them lets employees celebrate their roots in a fun and collaborative way.
Implementing Cultural Holiday Calendars
The national calendar doesn’t include every major holiday across every religion and ethnicity. When you have members of your team that celebrate differently than you do, give people time to honor what’s important to them!
Accommodating Employees’ Needs
It’s not always possible, but a flexible work schedule can make a big difference for people with a chronic illness, caregiving responsibilities, or other obligations. At LaFleur, we’re proud to offer our staff flexibility so they can work when they know they’ll work best, with the freedom to take care of their family and lives.
We never stop learning. Your team is probably filled with passionate people who would love to share their cultures and experiences with the team – if they’re approached in a thoughtful and respectful way.
When you’re out to create an inclusive space, think about how you can you acknowledge the ways you’re different, make space to celebrate those differences, and include more people who wouldn’t otherwise be included.
RELATED ARTICLE: How and Why to Promote Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workplace
The Benefits of Belonging at Work
It’s no secret that teams with diverse backgrounds and experiences outperform homogenous teams. And, if you’ve ever been on the outside or in a marginalized group, you know how great and wonderful it is to be included.
Peter Drucker, a thought leader on modern management, asserts that feeling appreciated, welcome, and celebrated is critical for people in the workplace. Without a sense of belonging, connection, and place, there’s little reason for these highly skilled workers to stick around.
Building an inclusive company culture is not only the right thing to do, it makes good business sense. Here are some other remarkable facts about diversity and inclusion.
- According to Forbes, fatigue from asserting their beliefs or positions and feeling overlooked and ignored are the top two reasons employees quit their jobs.
- Teams that have a mix of genders, ages, and ethnicity make better decisions 87% of the time, according to the Global Diversity Practice.
- McKinsey reports that teams with gender and ethnic diversity are 33% more profitable than industry averages.
- In a study that evaluated 4,277 companies for two years, those with gender-diverse R&D departments were more innovative.
LaFleur: Building a Better Workplace For All
At LaFleur, we’re constantly striving to do better, because we know change doesn’t all happen at once. We also believe that learning through relationships is the most effective way to build insight, and we actively strive for chances to grow.
If you want to learn more about our diversity and inclusion program, chat about implementing diversity and inclusion efforts in your own workplace, or want to connect about what we do best — brilliant digital marketing— don’t be a stranger! Give us a call at 888-222-1512 or fill out our simple contact form. We’d love to chat about what you need and how we can help.
Belonging. (2007, July). Oxford, UK: The Social Issues Research Centre. Retrieved from http://www.sirc.org/publik/Belonging.pdf
Baldoni, J. (2017, January 22). Fostering the sense of belonging promotes success. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbaldoni/2017/01/22/fostering-the-sense-of-belonging-promotes-success/#3cc77bbe10f2
Díaz-García, C., González-Moreno, A., Sáez-Martínez, F.J. (2014, December). Gender diversity within R&D teams: Its impact on radicalness of innovation. Innovation, 15, 149-160. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.5172/impp.2013.15.2.149
Hunt, V., Yee, L., Prince, S., & Dixon-Fyle, S. (2018, January). Delivering through diversity. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity
Ryan, L. (2018, April 17). The top 10 reasons great employees quit. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2018/04/17/the-top-ten-reasons-great-employees-quit/#3dee681cd575
What is diversity & inclusion? (n.d.) The Global Diversity Practice. Retrieved from https://globaldiversitypractice.com/what-is-diversity-inclusion/